Thursday, 28 January 2010

Fort’s red tower niches set to be restored

Fort’s red tower niches set to be restored

Shoaib Ahmed, Dawn.com, Lahore, Jan 26

The Punjab Archeology Department has reopened decorative patterns in red tower at the Lahore Fort for restoration and conservation, officials told Dawn.

They said these were closed by the British over a century ago. When Punjab was annexed by the British, they turned the Diwan-i-Khas into a church and the basement area of the red tower was also used as part of the church, they said.

The archeology department has reopened the niches of red tower for conservation and restoration of unique decorative patterns having fresco paintings with a focus on the revival of the Mughal-era glory. The paintings carry the images of flowers in red, yellow and blue colours.

Lahore Fort Curator Anjum Dara and deputy director Afzal Khan told Dawn that the decision to restore decorative patterns was taken during the plaster repairs of the red tower that was built for watch and ward purpose.

Elaborating on the structure of the red tower, they said: “The octagonal in red tower pavilion lies adjacent to Diwan-i-Khas and forms the north-west corner of Shah Jahan quadrangle. Its exterior is decorated with beautiful tile mosaic and filigree is done with colour paintings, mostly of Sikh period.

“The central basin and the channels on sides with their fountains are covered by a cement concrete floor during the British period. It may be presumed that the original flooring must have been in marble. The tower has three storeys, the top-most being a Sikh addition, while the rest together with the basement chambers are the works of Emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan.

Officials said the decorative patterns were being conserved and restored for the revival of original fabric of Mughal era. They said after the decline of the Mughal dynasty, a lot of additions and alterations were made to the original structure. “The department, however, has decided to restore the original glory of the red tower by conserving and restoring the decorative patterns closed by the British,” they added.

The Lahore Fort is located in the northwest corner of the Walled City. The citadel spreads over approximately 50 acres and is trapezoidal in form. Although the origin of this fort goes deep into antiquity, the present fortifications were begun by Mughal Emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar.

There is evidence that a mud fort was in existence here in 1021, when Mahmud of Ghazni invaded this area. Akbar demolished the old mud fort and constructed most of the modern fort on the old foundations.

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